How we use MBTI in our Leadership Programmes

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‘We support nurses and midwives to improve care and save lives.’ As far as missions go, it’s hard to imagine anything more valuable than this. How does MBTI® type and leadership training make the difference? And how does MBTI Complete help the organisation achieve its goals?

Project background 

The Florence Nightingale Foundation is a charity dedicated to developing and supporting nurses and midwives all over the world. It does this in large part through the Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy with leadership programmes, frontline support, online learning, and scholarships. 

So, how does leadership training help nurses and midwives? 

Patient care is the focal point, without question. This is the priority above all else. But the environment where that care takes place—both the healthcare sector and often the healthcare organisations themselves—is a highly complex (and often political) environment. 

“It is my experience that many nurses and midwives don’t see themselves as leaders,” says Becky Thomas, Leadership Development Facilitator, “but we know that leadership works at multiple levels. By helping them gain a good level of systems awareness we can help nurses and midwives better understand their potential for influencing healthcare design and delivery.  

“We all need to appreciate that anything that anyone does within the healthcare system can affect patient care…it’s like six degrees of separation.” 

What the Foundation aims to do is help nurses and midwives improve their effectiveness and gain the skills to be a voice of influence across the healthcare system and beyond.

Becky Thomas – FNF Leadership Development Facilitator

Viewing care through a systems lens 

“There are different levels of how we improve care,” says Becky. “There will be improvements at the point of care, and there will be policy change type improvement that we’d like to see our nurses and midwives have a voice in. 

“So yes, it is complex,” she adds. “That’s why we want to help nurses to look at what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis with more of a systems lens. A lot of our managers may work, for example, in a silo. They’re not always considering the whole organization and aren’t always aware that what they’re doing is having an impact in a different area.” 

One of the first steps in building those leadership skills is to start with self-awareness. And this is why the Foundation uses the MBTI assessment—specifically, MBTI Complete—in its leadership development programmes. 

The solution 

The Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy has forged partnerships with external organisations to help develop the nurses and midwives attending their Leadership Programme. 

For example, it works with RADA Business to develop personal presence and impact, and The King’s Fund for healthcare-focused expertise and leadership. 

But to start everything off, it uses Myers-Briggs® type to focus on participants’ self-awareness. And it’s chosen MBTI Complete to enable the organisation to do this most effectively. 

Here’s why. 

The business case for MBTI® Complete 

For an organisation like the Florence Nightingale Foundation, which aims to reach one million nurses and midwives by 2027, scalable online delivery is crucial to its plans and ambitious vision. 

Lucy Brown – Director of Nursing and Midwifery Leadership Development

“To give you some context,” says Lucy Brown, Director of Nursing and Midwifery Leadership Development, “we train nurses and midwives across the UK and globally. Last year we trained 16,512 nurses and midwives.” 

“We love the MBTI products,” she adds, “MBTI Complete is an ideal tool for our online programmes. It’s a standalone product that works really well, people can do it in their own time and we’ve been using it with large cohorts.” 

With MBTI Complete, individuals take the assessment, learn their MBTI type, and get personalized feedback online as self-guided study. This means they’re prepared and MBTI-informed ahead of the instructor-led module of their training programme.

“We set up the academy three years ago,” says Lucy, “because we recognised that we needed to develop leadership across the whole career span for nurses and midwives, not just the top senior nurses on scholarships. The first year we did around 10 programmes, the next year around 30, and this year it’s around 60. MBTI Complete has been an essential component of our programmes to enable us to offer online accessible leadership development. It helped us replicate what we were doing face-to-face and it allowed us to have more accessible training for all because not everyone can get to in-person sessions.” 

With scalability and accessibility accounted for, how else does MBTI Complete help nurses and midwives attending the programmes? 

Launching with self-awareness 

“On day one, MBTI sets the scene,” says Peter Roxburgh, Leadership Development Facilitator. “It’s the foundation we can build on and we’re increasingly looking at how to refer back to it throughout. We often get participants from different departments and wards, which means they don’t work with the others on the programme. However, they still find value from the MBTI as it allows them to recognise how preferences might be influencing conflict within the teams that they are from.” 

With such self-awareness, people can explore what it means for their leadership styles and adopt a growth mindset. Authentic leadership is a clear goal, especially in such a challenging, high-pressure environment. 

“I think a lot of what we’re talking about is emotional intelligence,” says Peter, “and helping nurses develop that, which is where the MBTI really steps in. And we see that leading to an understanding of developing their own authority and influence so they can bring about robust systemic change.” 

Peter Roxburgh – FNF Leadership Development Facilitator


Impact on patient care is one of the measures of success for the Florence Nightingale Foundation Academy, as Becky readily acknowledges. 

“If our programmes help people become better leaders, it helps with retention,” she says. “If staff that stay longer are happier, they’ll create better patient experiences and that’s what we’re moving towards.” 

Empowering nurses and midwives 

As a springboard for the rest of the Leadership Programme, including the discussions around authentic leadership, the MBTI assessment offers opportunities for nurses, midwives, and course facilitators to incorporate its learning points. 

“We’ve had some really powerful conversations in that session [about authentic leadership],” reflects Becky. “They weren’t explicitly connected to MBTI, and that’s maybe something we need to connect with more. But in terms of taking the time to explore what inclusive leadership means to them, we explored psychological safety, we explored bias, we’re bringing all these things together. 

“What was interesting to me was some points around incivility and language—like, they use the word subordinate a lot—there’s this language and lexicon that’s alive within the midwifery landscape which suggests hierarchy. They were really open and shared stories. At the end of those two days we did a ‘So, what now?’ bit and they were very clear about what was going on in their organisation. Psychological safety, for example—they felt like some of the other leaders in the organization needed to hear some of that.” 

“We’re looking to empower nurses,” concludes Becky, “to enable them to challenge the status quo and influence those organisational changes in a way that benefits everybody. 

“This [leadership training] is about giving our nurses and leaders the skills, courage, and mindset—a toolkit—to go back to and use, depending on the situation they’re in. That’s what we’re trying to achieve.” 

Succeeding with MBTI Complete 

Regarding MBTI Complete, the format has been successful because it helps the Florence Nightingale Foundation do what it’s supposed to do: reach more nurses and midwives. 

“What’s really good is that it allows everybody from all cultures, backgrounds, and accessibility, from the Outer Hebrides to deepest Cornwall, to attend the programme,” says Lucy. “And it allows us to reach a broader audience globally, too.” 

“Nurses and midwives work shifts,” she adds. “Their job is 24/7. With MBTI Complete, they can access it whenever they like and everyone gets an equal opportunity to learn. It’s accessible, whether people are working night shifts or wherever they are located. If they’ve got care responsibilities—children, parents, relatives—then this gives them the opportunity to turn up for the programme.” 

Feedback from nurses and midwives: 
  • “I learned more about my own leadership style and the strengths I bring to the table.” 
  • “It’s helped me to tackle my imposter syndrome.” 
  • “It’s helped me to grow in strength and help my influence over the board.” 
  • “It’s helped me to find out about me and who I am to grow and develop as a leader.” 
  • “It’s helped me hold staff to account by learning different skills.” 

This blog was first published on the Myersbriggs company website